Warm weather and family gatherings can make the Fourth of July a fun time with great memories. But before celebrating, the Department of Natural Resources is asking residents and visitors to make sure they understand the importance of fireworks and campfire safety.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 91 percent of the fires associated with fireworks over a five-year period occurred in grass, brush or dumpsters.
When planning to use fireworks, the DNR suggests keeping these safety tips in mind:
• Sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to melt gold. Sparklers remain hot even after the spark is gone. Always place in a bucket of water. Sparklers thrown on the ground can cause grass fires.
• Point fireworks away from homes, and keep them away from brush, leaves and flammable substances. The NFPA estimates that local fire departments respond to an average of 19,700 fires caused by fireworks each year.
• Chinese lanterns can stay airborne for 20 minutes and reach up to one mile high before coming down in unplanned locations. The open flame has the potential to start fires.
• Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash.
Ada Takacs, DNR fire prevention specialist, said that in addition to fireworks safety, people should keep the following tips in mind when enjoying their campfires:
• Use fire rings in non-flammable areas when possible.
• Never leave a campfire unattended.
• Keep a water source and shovel nearby.
• Place roasting sticks in a bucket of water when not in use.
• Completely extinguish fires before turning in for the night. Douse with water, stir and douse again to make sure no embers are left.
“Fireworks and campfires are a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July, but you’ll enjoy the holidays much more knowing that your family and your property are safe,” Takacs said.